6. M. Valerius
Messalla, M. F. M. N., with the agnomen NIGER, was praetor in the year of Cicero's consulship, B. C. 63, and consul in 61, the year in which Clodius profaned the mysteries of the Bona Dea, and Cn. Pompey triumphed for his several victories over the Cilician pirates, Tigranes and Mithridates. Messalla, as consul, took an active part in the prosecution of Clodius, and tried to elicit from Pompey a public avowal of his opinion and intentions. Cicero's character of Messalla (ad Att.
1.14.6) must be regarded as a mere party-sketch, heightened by the feelings and circumstances of the time at which it was drawn. Messalla was censor in B. C. 55. a member of the college of pontifices (pseudo-Cic. Harusp. Resp.
6), and a respectable orator. (Cic. Brut. 70
.) In B. C. 80 he was engaged in collecting evidence for the defence in the cause of Sextus Roscius of Ameria (id. pro Seat. Rose.
51); in 62 he solicited Cicero to undertake the defence of his kinsman, P. Sulla (id. pro Sull.
6); and in 54 he was one of the six orators whom M. Aemilius Scaurus retained on his trial. (Ascon. in Scaurian.
p. 20, Orelli). Messalla married a sister of the orator Q. Hortensius (Cic. Fam. 8.2
), by whom he had at least one son, No. 7. (D. C. 37.46
; Caes. Gal. 1.2
; Plin. Nat. 7.26
; Cic. Att. 1.12